Philippa Hanna review: Through the Woods

Philippa Hanna's album Through the Woods, her third since 2007, is set to be released July 1. The songs are folk country sounds blended with bluesy pop and sparkled with some really nice John Mayer-style guitar solos.

You can't help but be moved by her faith-filled lyrics and refreshed by this series of light-hearted pop songs.

The lead single "Lighthouse" has already been played live on BBC 2 by Hanna earlier this year. It encourages us to keep our eyes on God, the Lighthouse, who will never let us down: "You send the stars out when darkness falls around me / I feel not good enough but you light me up."

The songs generate a joyful atmosphere, with the nice up-tempo pop piece a la Lily Allen Daffodil Song. This song compares the listener to a flower and simply states: "The world is a better place when you don't hide / The world is a better place cause you're alive." Daffodil Song with its tremendous trumpet and choir duo break is just an excellent remedy for the moments you feel blue.

Each song of Through the Woods has its own story to tell, for example Hollywood describing a real love story far from the stereotypical Hollywood fairy tale romance.

"Fire" is a highlight of the album with this great muted guitar strumming and bluesy arrangements rising up to the chorus where Hanna celebrates "There's nothing I can do, I can't hide myself. This fire, it burns for you."

"It's just a song but it makes me feel closer to you" are the simple words with which the artist summarises worship music in the soft and lovely "It's Just a Song".

Hanna sings her hope and belief that everyone can be renewed and repaired "with a little love", referring to her own experiences. "New For Old" beautifully says if "the dust is blown from off the surface" then "there's a diamond to discover when you hold it to the light" which links back to the theme in the opening track.

After opening for soul legend Lionel Richie on 11 UK arena dates last year, Hanna delivers a brilliant and eclectic collection of mainly folk and pop pieces. The album explores country music, celtic music and blues as well, spiced up by classy arrangements and always sung by the lovely voice of Hanna.

Through the Woods follows her debut album Watching Me, 2007 and Taste, 2009. The Sheffield songwriter has worked with Grammy Award winning producer Eliot Kennedy (Bryan Adams, Spice Girls) and his team.

Production of this album was in part funded by a successful Kickstsarter campaign that saw Philippa's fans raise over £14,000 towards it.

Watch the video for Lighthouse here:

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